No high resolution image exists...
A crowd of women activists and their supporters flooded the Capitol lawn Saturday dressed in lingerie, mini skirts and dresses for the inaugural Sacramento Slutwalk.
A “slutwalk” is a rally and protest march against blaming sexual violence on its victims or trying to excuse or explain it with references to the victim’s clothing. Attendees often refer to themselves as “sluts,” and many come scantily clad to to help drive their point home.
Rico Ozaki, human trafficking specialist at My Sister’s House Sacramento, said the main purpose at the walk, which drew about 150 people, was to educate and offer support to victims or people who know someone in crisis.
“We’re hoping people take the message seriously that it doesn’t matter what women wear,” Ozaki said. “It’s really important not to blame the victim as in human trafficking and domestic violence.”
Attendees held signs of support of women’s rights with phrases like “You can’t touch this” and “No woman ever asks to be raped” while being entertained by speeches, poetry, and music before walking around the Capitol.
Image by: Ebony Jeffries
Slutwalk protest marches started in April 2011 after a Canadian police officer, Constable Michael Sanguinetti, said, "I've been told I'm not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."
Two women activists seized the outrage generated by the officer’s comments to organize the first march and begin a movement against the social climates that feed into victim-blaming and shaming in cases of sexual violence against women.
Since then, feminist groups around the world have participated in Slutwalks or similar events to stand against the idea that victims of sexual violence are somehow “asking for it.”
Ashley Fleming, co-founder and assistant event coordinator for Slutwalk Sacramento, said her frustation with society's tendency to cast blame on victims of sexual violence inspired her to bring the cause to Sacramento.
“Victim-blaming leaves women unable to heal,” Fleming said. “ It keeps them from getting justice.”
According to Fleming, blaming the victim allows criminals to get away without taking responsibility for their actions.
Fleming said coordinators for Slutwalk Sacramento originally planned the walk for last year after the marches in Canada, but a lack of sponsors caused them to push it back to 2012.
At the Slutwalk tables offering support services included: the California chapter of the National Organization for Women, My Sister’s House (an organization helping women and children impacted by domestic violence), Damsel in Defense (an independent company equipping women with defense tools like pepper spray and tasers ), Women Take Back the Night ( a women’s march and rally group against rape and sexual violence), and Women’s Health Specialists (A California network of feminist women’s health centers).
Fleming said people came from all around California to support Sacramento’s Slutwalk, and if things go well, organizers plan on having another rally/walk next year.
“We’re going to see how this year goes,” Fleming said. “This year is like a trial run for future events.”